One of the most common forms of racism is anti-Semitism ie hatred of the Jews. What follows is a fairly objective overview of why there is such a deep prejudice against the Jews. Please note, it is not talking about Israel.
Prejudice, it seems, is a standard fare of life. In his folksong entitled “National Brotherhood Week,” Tom Lehrer sings:
Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics,
and the Catholics hate the Protestants,
and the Hindus hate the Muslims
and everybody hates the Jews.
In this song, Lehrer expresses the truism that hatred for the Jew is uniquely commonplace. The Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, blood libels, pogroms, countless expulsions and the systematic murder of 6 million.
The question is: Why? What lies behind these millennium of hatred? Why has the undercurrent of anti-Semitism bubbled and boiled and exploded against Jews everywhere, time and again throughout history?
In this 8-part seminar, we will examine the root reason for the world’s longest hatred.
Causes versus Excuses – How Can We Tell the Difference?
When we study any theory, it is important to distinguish between a “cause” and an “excuse.” The difference is not difficult to recognize:
When one thing causes another, if we remove the cause, the effect should vanish. If, on the other hand, one thing is an excuse for another, then even after taking away the excuse, the effect will remain.
A child who is chronically late to school may say in his defense, “But I don’t have a watch. How do you expect me to get to school in time if I don’t have a watch?”
If his parents would buy him a watch and he would still be late for school, then it is clear that the lack of a watch was just an excuse for his lateness, not its cause.
Concerning anti-Semitism, if we succeed in identifying the reason for anti-Semitism, then eliminating that should put an end to hatred for the Jews. However, if we can eliminate it and the hatred remains, then we know that what we thought was a cause is actually an excuse.
The Six Common Reasons for anti-Semitism
Keep this distinction in mind as we explore the six most frequently offered reasons for anti-Semitism. As we touch upon each of these explanations, we will try to ascertain whether it is the cause of the hatred, or merely an excuse.
Historians and sociologists have come up with numerous theories to explain anti-Semitism. We will examine these one by one, and discuss the validity of each.
- Economic: Jews are hated because they possess too much wealth and power.
- Chosen People: Jews are hated because they arrogantly claim they are the chosen people.
- Scapegoat: Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for all the troubles.
- Deicide: Jews are hated because they killed Jesus.
- Outsiders: Jews are hated because they are different than the rest of society.
- Racial Theory: Jews are hated because they are an inferior race.
Let us examine these six frequently-given reasons and determine if they are truly causes or excuses.
The Economic Theory of Anti-Semitism
The Economic Theory of Anti-Semitism postulates that Jewish wealth and power arouses the envy of other groups, and this in turn leads to great resentment.
This theory has surfaced in different guises throughout history. One of the ways it became popularized was through The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the minutes of fictional “secret meetings” in which Jewish leaders conspire to rule the world. Protocols is a viciously anti-Semitic book created by the Russian secret police.
This fictional account has provided an excellent excuse for campaigns of persecution against Jews, influenced the masses to believe the myth that Jews control governments. It is the second most widely published book in history.
Do people today still believe that Jews have some mysterious financial and organizational advantage over the rest of humanity?
Ancient Chinese Secret
A True Story:
A Jewish physicist who works for Exxon Corporation spent many months working on a project in coordination with a world-renowned scientist from China. The two men developed a good working relationship and became friendly with one another.
One day the Chinese scientist commented to the Jew, “You know, ever since we first met I’ve been meaning to ask you a question: Why did you become a physicist? Why didn’t you just go into business?”
“What kind of question is that?” \ the Jewish scientist replied. “I became a physicist because I wanted to be a physicist!”
“But aren’t you Jewish?” the Chinese man persisted.
“So what difference does that make?”
“Well,” the Chinese scientist patiently explained, “there would be countless risks involved if I would go into business, but for you it’s risk-free!”
“Forgive me, but I’m not following you,” said the Jew. “What sort of business is risk-free?”
“For you – any business! Come on,” he said with a conspirational wink, “we all know you have the Organization behind you.”
“Huh? What ‘organization’ are you talking about?”
“Come on, everybody knows that all Jewish men get money from the Organization when they get married. That’s how all the Jews get started in business. There’s no risk involved, because if the business fails, the Organization buys out the debt and then funnels more start-up money to the Jew. This goes on until the fellow hits upon a business that prospers!”
No such fantastically endowed international organization exists. Yet the assumption of this world-class scientist demonstrates that the myth of Jewish access to unlimited wealth is alive and well today.
Applying the Litmus Test
Does this attitude explain anti-Semitism? Is the Economic Theory a cause or an excuse for anti-Semitism?
First, consider universal attitudes toward the rich. We don’t see any sustained historical persecution against wealthy non-Jews. Thus, if the haters decide to single out wealthy Jews and ignore wealthy non-Jews, economics cannot be regarded as the cause for hatred.
Second, if we remove the element of wealth and power from the Jews, does the anti-Semitism vanish?
The Jews who lived in the shtetels of Poland and Russia during the 17th-20th centuries were poor and powerless, utterly lacking any form of influence whatsoever. Yet they were hated. Often they were persecuted and subjected to unspeakable torments. On many occasions entire villages were ransacked and their Jewish inhabitants massacred in cold blood. Under those circumstances, anti-Semitism did not distinguish between rich and poor, between strong and weak, between powerful and powerless.
Likewise, anti-Semites in the Middle Ages initiated countless pogroms against Jews (without first investigating their bank accounts or investment portfolios).
When the Nazis liquidated the Warsaw Ghetto, there were no Jewish businesses to destroy. In fact, the impoverished conditions there were appalling. The Jews in the ghetto could not have been thought of as “rich” by anyone’s standards, and yet the Nazis felt they had to be eliminated.
Poor Jews have always been hated equally as rich Jews. When a Jew meets with financial success, it may set the anti-Semite’s teeth on edge, but the Jew’s success is clearly not what created the anti-Semite. Money therefore cannot be the cause of anti-Semitism.
The Fugu Plan
How about power? Can it be the cause of anti-Semitism?
If someone who is rich and powerful comes to you for a favor, would you persecute him? No, you help him – having such a person indebted to you is a great insurance policy. Case in point is the Arab oil-producing countries who are widely appeased, despite their standards that often fly in the face of Western values.
There was one nation that did treat the Jews as if they were powerful and rich. The Japanese never had much exposure to Jews, and knew very little about them. In 1919 Japan fought alongside the anti-Semitic White Russians against the Communists. At that time the White Russians introduced the Japanese to the book, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The Japanese studied the book and, according to all accounts, naively believed its propaganda. Their reaction was immediate and forceful – they formulated a plan to encourage Jewish settlement and investment into Manchuria. The Japanese decided that these wealthy and powerful Jews are precisely the people with whom they want to do business!
The Japanese called their plan for Jewish settlement “The Fugu Plan.” The “fugu” is a highly poisonous blowfish. After the toxin-containing organs are painstakingly removed, it is used as a food in Japan, and is considered an exquisite delicacy. If it is not prepared carefully, however, its poison can be deadly.
The Japanese saw the Jews as a nation with highly valuable potential, but, as with the fugu, in order to take advantage of that potential, they had to be extremely careful. Otherwise, the Japanese thought, the plan would backfire and the Jews would annihilate Japan with their awesome power.
Duuring World War II, the Japanese were allies of the Nazis, yet they allowed thousands of European refugees – including the entire Mir Yeshivah – to enter Shanghai and Kobe during the war. They welcomed these Jews into their country, not because they bore any great love for the Jews, but because they believed that Jews had access to enormous resources and power which could greatly benefit Japan. (This is all detailed in the book, The Fugu Plan, by Marvin Tokayer.)
If anti-Semites truly believe that Jews rule the world, then why don’t they relate to the Jews like the Japanese did?
The fact that Jews are generally treated as outcasts proves that people do not really believe that Jews are as wealthy or powerful as claimed. In other words, the anti-Semites do not take their own propaganda seriously.
Whatever Happened to Jewish Power?
If there is any truth to the notion that Jews control governments, why couldn’t those powerful Jews convince any country to accept the refugees who were struggling to escape the European inferno during the Holocaust? If “World Jewry” is so powerful and wields such political influence, surely at least one government would have agreed to take them in as refugees and allowed them to stay until the end of the war…
The film Voyage of the Damned dramatically demonstrates how government buried its head in the sand while the wholesale slaughter of Jews went unchecked. As such, the claim that Jews control governments rings painfully absurd.
Jews as Moneylenders
In this same vein, many people say that anti-Semitism has been caused by the fact that Jews were money-lenders in many societies and supposedly extracted their “pound of flesh” from their non-Jewish compatriots.
In fact, just the opposite is true. Jews were forced to become moneylenders precisely because of the severe employment limitations which anti-Semitic trends imposed on them. Anti-Semitic laws made it impossible for Jews to own land, to attend universities or to enter any common occupations. Money was the only commodity in which they were allowed to deal, so lacking any other option, they became money-lenders.
Hence, we see that Jews were not hated because they were money-lenders; rather, they were money-lenders because they were hated.
Obviously, the economic reason for anti-Semitism is really an excuse.
The Chosen People Theory
Knowledge of Jewish “choseness” is undeniably widespread. Several years ago, the University of California conducted a study of anti-Semitism. Non-Jewish Americans were presented with 18 unfavorable statements about Jews, and asked whether they believed any of them. By far the most widely-held belief among those surveyed (59%) was that “Jews consider themselves to be G-d’s chosen people.”
Let’s test whether this belief is indeed a legitimate cause of anti-Semitism – or whether it is merely another excuse. If Jewish “choseness” is in fact the cause of anti-Semitism, then hatred against the Jews should disappear when Jews drop the claim that they are chosen.
Late in the 19th century, the Jews living in Germany and Austria collectively rejected their “choseness” and were assimilated by their host nation. In fact, they believed that the non-Jews among whom they lived were the true chosen people. “Berlin is our Jerusalem!” they loudly proclaimed. Gentile society was their social environment of choice, and Germany their beloved motherland.
Did anti-Semitism disappear? We all know the tragic answer to that question. The Jews in Germany and Austria experienced the most vicious outpouring of anti-Semitic hatred in history. Precisely when Jews rejected their claim to “chosenness,” they suffered the most virulent forms of anti-Semitism.
Clearly, the Chosen People Theory does not pass this litmus test.
Other “Chosen” Peoples
Another test of the Chosen People Theory is to see how humanity responds to other peoples who claim to be “chosen.” If the claim that Jews are chosen gives rise to anti-Semitism, then all groups who make similar claims of having been “chosen” should also become targets of persecution and hatred.
Christianity and Islam represent two other major religious groups that claim to have been chosen. Christian theology accepts that G-d gave the Bible to the Jews and made the Jews His special messengers. However, it is the Christian belief that once the Jews rejected Jesus, the Christians became G-d’s new chosen people.
Muslims likewise believe that the Jewish Bible is the word of G-d. However, Muslim theology claims that when Mohammad appeared on the scene, G-d made the Muslims His chosen people.
If Christians and Muslims both claim that they are chosen, then why hasn’t this historically generated hatred against them?
Indeed, nearly every nation on earth has at one time or another claimed to be chosen. Americans claimed Manifest Destiny – that their actions were divinely willed – when they annexed Texas and Alaska, against the wishes of the inhabitants of those areas. The Chinese chose to name their country China because the word means “center of the universe.” The name Japan means “source of the sun.” For Native Americans, the same word means both “human being” and “Indian” – implying that every non-Indian belongs to some subspecies.
These nations are not hated for having claimed superiority. A claim that one is chosen does not in and of itself cause hatred. If it did, then so many other nations would be the targets of the intense, universal hatred that is in fact unique to the Jews.
The Scapegoat Theory
The Scapegoat Theory is cited frequently as a cause of anti-Semitism. Some historians use it to account for the emergence of German anti-Semitism in the late 1930s.
Their reasoning is as follows:
Hitler, like many totalitarian dictators before him, needed to divert blame for his nation’s problems by ascribing them to an innocent victim. He randomly selected the Jews as his scapegoat and launched a massive defamatory campaign to alienate them from mainstream German society. He succeeded in his efforts, and as a result, the overwhelming majority of Germans came to hate Jews.
The Scapegoat Theory gives rise to a time-worn question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? In other words, does a group become hated as a consequence of being singled out as a scapegoat, or is it selected as a scapegoat because it is hated?
The first prerequisite for a prospective scapegoat is someone that the citizens of the country are willing to hate from the start. If we would attempt to divert attention from our own shortcomings by blaming a group that is not already hated by society, the people would not accept it. A fair portion of the population will demand to see evidence of the group’s guilt and refuse to let us off the hook.
Imagine what would have happened if Adolf Hitler would have stood before one of those huge crowds in Nuremberg National Coliseum and declared:
My fellow Germans, there is a group among us that is the scourge of humanity! They are dominating the German people and destroying our motherland! If Germany is to regain its esteemed status, these people must be persecuted and ultimately eliminated. Who are these people? They are the midgets among us!
Because there is no preexisting hatred against midgets, people with freckles, or bicycle-riders, governments don’t try to scapegoat them.
The Jews are chosen consistently as scapegoats because it is so easy to rile hatred against them. Jews are a people that everyone is more than happy to persecute.
Therefore, the Scapegoat Theory is not the cause of anti-Semitism. Rather, anti-Semitism is what makes the Jews a convenient scapegoat target. If anything, the Scapegoat Theory is simply a barometer indicating the level of hatred that already exists against Jews in any given society. It reveals how much anti-Semitism is already present, waiting to be stirred up.
The Scapegoat is obviously an excuse, not a reason.
Deicide: The Killers-of-Jesus Theory
Christians have long claimed that the Jews killed Jesus, and that is why they hate Jews.
Is this the real cause for hatred? If it is, why were Christians not angry at Jews 2,000 years ago, at the time the Jews supposedly killed Jesus?
Christian anti-Semitism did not begin until long after the death of Jesus. It was not until several centuries later that the Church fathers decided that Jews as a group should be persecuted because they “killed Jesus.” Bernard Blumenkranz, author of Jews and Christians in the Western World, documents that the intense and ongoing Christian persecution of the Jews did not truly begin until the advent of the Crusades – over 1,000 years after Jesus’ death!
Furthermore, once Christian hatred for Jews got under way, it became worse with the passage of time. Logically, time should have eased the strong feelings, as all of us can attest to the fact that anger gradually decreases with time. Time has a way of healing all wounds.
For example, in 1866, following the Civil War in America, a Northerner would have felt much tension if he had visited the South. Today, a visit to the Southern United States arouses no such emotions. Have you ever heard of a resident of New York feeling apprehensive about vacationing in Florida?
The farther away one is from an event, the less rage one feels – provided the event is the actual cause of the rage!
Therefore, if Christians hate Jews because they killed Jesus, that rage should have climaxed following Jesus’ death, and petered out during the two millennia since then. History indicates the very opposite pattern – there were no recorded incidents of anti-Semitism immediately after Jesus’ death, yet there were thousands of such incidents many centuries later. From this we see that Jesus’ death is not the cause of Christian anti-Semitism.
Who Killed Jesus?
According to the New Testament, it was only the Romans who killed Jesus. While Jews are mentioned as accomplices, the Gospels of Matthew, John and Mark all specifically state that the Romans killed Jesus.
If the killing of Jesus is the cause of Christian hatred, why have only the Jewish accomplices been categorically persecuted? Christians should hate Romans at least as much as they hate Jews!
Obviously, Jesus’ death is an excuse, not the reason for anti-Semitism.
Jews are Different?
Maybe Jews are hated simply because they are different. Traditionally, Jews were characterized by different dress, different laws and sometimes, even a different language. Certainly this discrimination is what the Chinese experienced in early America, and what the Frenchman experienced in England. Sociologists refer to this phenomenon as “the dislike of the unlike.”
This theory sounds like a sensible cause for anti-Semitism: Jews have been hated because they were different. Throughout history, Jews kept to themselves. Their ethical, cultural and social systems were different from those of their neighbors. Most pointedly, the Jews’ fondest dream was always their return to Zion. They were law-abiding citizens who contributed to their host nations and even took to the battlefield to defend it, but their hearts always pointed in the direction of the Promised Land. It is undeniably true that throughout history, Jews were the ultimate “outsiders.”
But what happens when Jews shed their cultural differences and become genuine “insiders”? If the Outsider Theory is correct, then the solution to anti-Semitism should be assimilation. Anti-Semitism should decrease in ratio to the Jews’ ability to integrate into their host societies. Is this really what happens?
In the 18th century, the Enlightenment reached Europe, giving equal rights to all people, regardless of religion.
In December 1789, during a discussion in the French National Assembly in which French Jews were granted equal rights, Count Stanislas de Clermont-Tonnere declared: “To the Jews as individuals, everything. To the Jews as a nation, nothing.”
The Jews of Europe jumped at the opportunity to attain equality, hoping at long last to rid themselves of the “dislike of the unlike” phenomenon. They shed their foreign dress, shaved off their beards, and attended universities and theaters. They adopted the language, culture and styles of their non-Jewish neighbors, and intermarried with them. They purged their prayers of any mention of the return to Zion. In short, they became more French than the French.
Napoleon was quick to capitalize on this development of Jews adapting to French culture. In 1807, he convened a kangaroo court to pressure the Jews to shed any lingering commitment to Jewish nationhood, forcing the Jews to declare their exclusive loyalty to France.
Jewish acceptance of this attitude widened. In Germany, Reform Jews declared, “Berlin is our Jerusalem; Germany is our Fatherland.” Having endured centuries of hatred, the Jews of Europe anticipated a warm welcome from their gentile neighbors.
But they were sorely disappointed. The Dreyfuss affair, in which falsified charges of treason were brought against a Jewish French officer, was contrived to show that Jews could never be loyal citizens of their host countries.
Shortly thereafter, Hitler’s rise to power once again pulled the rug out from under the Jews’ sense of security in their assimilationist approach. Nazism sent a strong message to Jews: We hate you, not because you’re different, but because you’re trying to become like us! We cannot allow you to infect the Aryan race with your inferior genes.
So long as Jews remained outsiders, the Outsider Theory reflected some degree of logic. Once the Jews attempted to become insiders, the Outsider Theory was dashed to pieces ― because it never had been the real cause of the hatred.
The Racial Theory
This gave rise to a new excuse: the inferiority of the Jewish race. You can shed the external trappings of your life, shave your beard, get rid of your yarmulke, even change your religion. But you can never change your race.
The overriding problem with this theory is that it is self-contradictory: Jews are not a race. Anyone can become a Jew ― and members of every race, creed and color in the world have done so at one time or another.
There is no distinguishing racial physical feature common only to Jews. Even the idea of a “Jewish nose” is a myth. Anti-Semites don’t hate only those Jews who have distinctively Jewish physical features; they hate all Jews. They hate Eastern European Jews; they hate Israeli, Russian and Yemenite Jews; they hate blond, blue-eyed Dutch Jews, as well as dark-skinned, Mediterranean Jews. Any Jew will do.
Anti-Semitism cannot be explained as racism for the very simple reason that Jews are a nation, not a race.
We have touched on the six most common explanations for the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. None of these standard reasons holds up as the core reason for anti-Semitism. Under scrutiny, they prove to be mere excuses. We must look afresh at this hatred to find a true root cause.
Of all discriminatory forms for hatred, anti-Semitism is unique in four ways:
1) Longevity ― anti-Semitism has been going on for an exceptionally long time. One of the most authoritative books on anti-Semitism is The Anguish of the Jews: A History of Anti-Semitism, authored by a Catholic priest Edward Flannery. He writes:
As a historian of anti-Semitism looks back over the millennia of horrors he has recorded, an inescapable conclusion emerges. Anti-Semitism is different because of its longevity and consistency.
2) Universality ― anti-Semitism is found worldwide. Throughout history, in every region where Jews have lived, they have been hated. No matter where they settle, no matter whom their host, anti-Semitism eventually rears its ugly head.
Between the years 250 C.E. and 1948 ― a period of 1,700 years ― Jews in Europe experienced an average of one expulsion every 21 years. Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and 71 other countries.
3) Intensity ― hatred against the Jews is vented in a particularly virulent way. A group that is hated usually becomes the butt of ethnic jokes, and is subject to discrimination. Jews, on the other hand, are subject to attempts at genocide. The Chmelnicki pogroms, the Holocaust, and Iran’s nuclear threats are attempts to exterminate a people that represent just a tiny minority of the world’s population.
4) Confusion ― there is surprisingly little agreement on exactly what anti-Semites hate! When one group hates another, that hatred can be traced to a few simple, well-defined reasons. In Bosnia, people are persecuted over territory and religion; in Ireland, it’s national independence and religion. Blacks are hated by some for racial reasons. But no one has yet offered a single, universally-accepted reason to explain why people hate the Jews.
If you will ask an anti-Semite to state his reasons, those reasons are often self-contradictory. Consider this paradox:
• Jews are hated for being a lazy and inferior race ― but also for dominating the economy and taking over the world.• Jews are hated for stubbornly maintaining their separateness ― and, when they do assimilate ― for posing a threat to racial purity through intermarriages.
• Jews are seen as pacifists and as warmongers; as capitalist exploiters and as revolutionary communists; possessed of a Chosen-People mentality, as well as of an inferiority complex.
Too Many Reasons Mean No Real Reason
The “Six Reasons” don’t hold water ― they are excuses!
Hatred for Jews over the past 2,000 years has been continuous, universal and vicious, but the explanation for that hatred constantly changes. This fact alone alerts us to the need to look for what lies at the core of those explanations.
Picture yourself at a job interview. The interviewer tells you outright that you cannot be considered for the job because you lack computer skills. You enroll in a computer course, and in a month you have gained the necessary skills.
You return to the company, and the interviewer says he tells you he still cannot hire you, because you lack training in finance and management. You study diligently, and within a short time you have mastered the subject.
When you return to the company a third time, you are told that the real reason they cannot hire you is your hairstyle; you simply do not reflect the image the company wishes to represent to the public.
This fiasco sends you a very clear message: The reasons the company had been feeding you all along were nothing but excuses. The interviewer only used excuses to cover up some deeper reason for his refusal to hire you.
This situation is much like the common explanations for anti-Semitism: Even when the reasons are no longer applicable, the anti-Semitism remains.
This does not mean we should totally discount these reasons. Even though they may be excuses and not the source of the hatred, they do influence the masses to hate Jews. They may exacerbate the hatred, but they certainly don’t explain it.
The problem is that each of the explanations focuses on issues external to the Jew. They have nothing to do with the essence of the Jew.
What then is The Reason?
Removing the Jewish Element from Anti-Semitism
Almost without exception, the reasons for anti-Semitism offered by different scholars have nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Jews are Jewish (e.g. Jews are rich or they’re different).
These reasons effectively “de-Judaize” anti-Semitism by equating it with any other common type of hatred. According to this attitude, the Holocaust ― the most systematic attempt to exterminate a people in the history of humanity ― had nothing to do with “Jewish” reasons. Jews simply happened to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In his book Why the Jews?, Dennis Prager cites a glaring example of an attempt to sell the public on the idea that there is nothing Jewish about anti-Semitism. On April 11, 1944, demonstrating an uncanny wisdom that far surpassed her age, Anne Frank wrote in her diary:
Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly until now? It is God Who has made us as we are, but it will be God, too, Who will raise us up again.Who knows ― it might even be our religion from which the world and all peoples learn good, and for that reason and that reason alone do we now suffer. We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English, or representatives of any other country for that matter. We will always remain Jews.
Anne Frank made a point of stressing that Jews have something of special value to give to the world, and that is precisely what the world has resented in persecuting the Jews. Anne Frank identified anti-Semitism as a hatred of Jewishness, a loathing altogether different from the bigotry or racism that other peoples experience.
Amazingly, when Anne Frank’s story was reconstructed by Lillian Hellman into a Broadway play, her words were completely changed. “Why are Jews hated?” asks Anne. “Well, one day it’s one group, and the next day another…”
On Broadway, audiences were made to believe that Jews have been hated just as any other people has been hated. In other words, there is nothing Jewish about anti-Semitism.
But what do anti-Semites themselves say about this topic?
Hitler’s Straightforward Approach
Scholars have made consistent attempts to prove that there is nothing uniquely Jewish that engenders Anti-Semitism. Let us see if comments from known Jew-haters reveal what they find so objectionable.
One individual who had no use for the multitude of whitewashed explanations offered by scholars was Adolf Hitler, the man responsible for the most devastating scourge of anti-Semitism in the history of mankind.
Hitler openly acknowledged the uniqueness of the Jews as a people. Hitler realized that Jews can never be successfully integrated with the rest of humanity, and he made it his objective to ensure that they never would be.
Hitler’s form of anti-Semitism was not a means to an end; it was a goal in and of itself. The Nuremberg Laws, established in 1935, effectively disenfranchised and dismantled the Jewish community of Germany ― but this was not enough to satisfy Hitler.
In the late 1930s, Germany was rebuilt and its morale restored, but Hitler’s eye remained trained on the Jews. Seven years after the Nuremberg Laws mangled and mutilated the Jews in body and spirit, the Final Solution was launched in the Wansee Conference of 1942. Hitler saw the Jews as something far more menacing than mere scapegoats; the Jewish nation was his mortal enemy, and so became his target for absolute destruction.
Hitler viewed National Socialism as a new world order, a way to create mankind anew.
How is this renewal of mankind to take place? Hitler declared:
The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us ― between Germans and Jews. All else is facade and illusion. Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States. Even when we have driven the Jew out of Germany, he remains our world enemy.
Why Did Hitler Target the Jews?
Eliminating the Jews was the key to Hitler’s utopia. His driving ambition was to free the world from the shackles of conscience and morality; to turn the world away from monotheism. He fashioned his own brand of religion out of a philosophy based on indulging all of man’s basest desires. The “Hitler Youth” sang this song:
We have no need for Christian virtue.
Our leader is our savior.
The pope and rabbi shall be gone.
We shall be pagans once again.
Hitler’s picture of the perfect world was a return to a state of jungle-type existence, where “might makes right.” He said:
In a natural order, the classes are peoples superimposed on one another in strata, instead of living as neighbors. To this order we shall return as soon as the after-effects of liberalism have been removed.
The only serious obstacle standing in Hitler’s way was the Jews. Hitler knew that it was the Jews who carried the message of one God ― of all men created equal; of love your neighbor; of helping the poor and the infirm.
Hitler hated the message of the Jews because it was diametrically opposed his vision of what the world should be. He said:
They refer to me as an uneducated barbarian,” Hitler said. “Yes we are barbarians. We want to be barbarians; it is an honored title to us. We shall rejuvenate the world. This world is near its end.
Hitler told his people:
Providence has ordained that I should be the greatest liberator of humanity. I am freeing man from the restraints of an intelligence that has taken charge, from the dirty and degrading self-mortifications of a false vision known as conscience and morality, and from the demands of a freedom and personal independence which only a very few can bear.
In Every Jew’s Soul
Hitler’s only real target was the Jews, because they were all that stood between him and success. So long as the Jews survived, Hitler could never triumph. The Jewishly-rooted concepts of God and morality had taken hold in the world, and Hitler knew that either his own ideologies or those of the Jews would prevail. The world would not abide both.
The Ten Commandments have lost their vitality. Conscience is a Jewish invention; it is a blemish, like circumcision.
Furthermore, Hitler knew that the Jewish threat to his ideals is embodied in every single Jew. He said:
If only one country, for whatever reason, tolerates a Jewish family in it, that family will become the germ center for fresh sedition. If one little Jewish boy survives without any Jewish education, with no synagogue and no Hebrew school, it [Judaism] is in his soul.
The Jewish spirit, Hitler explained, is the product of the Jewish person. Destroying their holy places alone would not be enough. In Hitler’s words:
Even had there never existed a synagogue or a Jewish school or the Old Testament, the Jewish spirit would still exist and would exert its influence. It has been there from the beginning, and there is no Jew ― not a single one ― who does not personify it.
The evil of Hitler lay not in his understanding of who the Jewish people are. His evil grew from his reactions to that understanding. Ironically, Hitler had a clearer understanding of who the Jewish people are, and what they have accomplished, than many Jews have today.